March 23, 2014

Sidebar: Equal Opportunity Angry Voter

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 Listen, Democrats - if you think my Angry Voter  Knock Knock post   yesterday means you're off the  hook, you are sorely mistaken.

 Because you're spending too much time on the wrong  things, too, just  like the Republicans are. At the  federal level and at the state level, just  like the  Republicans are.

 Need some examples?
  • limiting bullets in ammo clips does not create jobs
  • universal pre-k does not create jobs
  • extending unemployment benefits does not create jobs
  • raising the minimum wage does not create jobs
  • regulating the size of a soda is not going to create jobs

There's more, but I'll stop with these.

Now, don't get me wrong: I believe that we can have reasonable limits on guns -- I've talked quite a bit about that (here, here and here, for example). And I believe we have a problem with gun violence that is not going to be solved simply by changing gun laws. And while bullet limits might make us feel better, we're not going to see more than a handful of jobs created (to make ammo clips smaller) in the overall scheme of things.

And yes, I understand that having a good start at the pre-k level is important, but not if we stop there.  I believe that we need to do something about education in America, something that neither demonizes nor blindly rewards teachers, something that doesn't just take another pile of money and throw it at the problem, and we should ensure that what we teach in schools matters.  Meaning, we should not be teaching to the test if the testing is not going to accomplish anything.

I also think we should not be giving incentives to people to take their children out of public elementary and secondary schools in favor of private schools; in fact, the opposite would make more sense. Give tax breaks to people who keep their kids in public schools.

While universal pre-k is believed by many to help get kids and families on the right track, help them move down the path to eventual gainful employment, it's not going to create a whole lot of jobs, and all of that preparation could end up being wasted if we don't have jobs when these kids get out of school.

And yes, unemployment benefits are always an important and necessary evil in our economy, even when it was booming back in the day. In today's economy, the need is higher, but making sure the safety net is larger or longer-lasting doesn't address the foundational issue, which is that we are not putting people back to work fast enough.

Raising the minimum wage is something we can debate forever; there are significant areas of disagreement on the benefits of doing this, and there are examples on both sides of how beneficial or horrible it will be if we paid everyone at least $8 or $9 or $10 or $15 an hour for typically unskilled jobs, and the implications on jobs that already pay that amount to people who have skills and qualifications.

I'm conflicted on what the minimum wage should be, and whether there should even be a federal minimum wage. But I'm not conflicted on this: raising the minimum wage is not apt to create a ton of jobs, and the jobs that would be created at this wage level are not the kind that will help grow and sustain our economy over the long term.

One place I think we don't need to be conflicted at all is on how many jobs regulating the size of a cup of soda will create. I mean, talk about a drop in the bucket. I think everyone can at least understand where this type of thing comes from -- as a whole we drink (and eat) far too many empty calories and in the short- and long-term that's not good for us and leaves us open to significant health issues and potentially disability and that will tax the safety net and cost us more money and so on.  I get that - but I don't for a moment believe this is something that we need to have politicians spending time on.

We need jobs. Good paying jobs. We need a solid education system that will prepare the next generation for what's to come in the workplace, whether it's renewable energy or high-tech manufacturing or low-tech manufacturing or pharmaceuticals or old fashioned energy jobs or long-haul truckers or infrastructure repair experts or teachers or physicians assistants and nurse practitioners or diabetes educators or registered dietitians or personal trainers or ammo clip makers or yoga instructors or wolves of Wall Street.

We need jobs that allow people to work full time, to earn enough to take control of their own lives, to get unentwangled from the safety net.

And we need them yesterday.

So, Dems, figure out a way to talk to the Republicans and find some common ground. Because I'm not really any happier with you than I am with them.

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